The Capilano Air Park

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1950s newspaper ad promoting Norgate as a family-friendly neighbourhood, courtesy North Vancouver Museum & Archives
1950s newspaper ad promoting Norgate as a family-friendly neighbourhood, courtesy North Vancouver Museum & Archives

A few people that I know have sold their large houses and downsized to Norgate, one of the few flat areas of North Vancouver just to the east of the Lions Gate Bridge. Norgate is also one of the few areas that hasn’t seen massive change to its housing stock—a collection of modest-sized, tidy mid-century ranchers with big gardens. And that’s exactly the appeal to those not willing to settle for a condo or multi-floored townhouse with strata fees and councils attached.

And, as it turns out, Norgate has a really interesting history—the area was originally planned to be the Capilano Air Park.

Norgate
Proposed airfield appeared on a 1947 map of North Vancouver, courtesy North Vancouver Museum and Archives

According to the North Vancouver Museum and Archive’s March 2006 Express, the new airfield was first proposed in 1945, and designed to cater to tourists flying their own planes from other parts of Canada and the U.S. Plans were to have two runways— the first, a 3,000-foot landing strip for light aircraft and another 2,500-foot runway for heavier craft to be added later. Construction was supposed to start in 1947 and include luxury accommodation for the “flying tourists.”

Sowden Street, Norgate ca.1950, courtesy North Vancouver Museum & Archives
Sowden Street, Norgate ca.1950, courtesy North Vancouver Museum & Archives

In the end, there weren’t enough funds available for an airfield and the land was sold to Hullah Construction to develop a subdivision. Company namesake, Norman Hullah, modeled Norgate after a typical California subdivision, building houses on a scale of 50 at a time and working out of a mill located in the area.

Typical Norgate rancher today
Typical Norgate rancher today
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